DJ Turner and Lorenzo Harrison starred in their return to Maryland Stadium Saturday for the Terps’ spring game.
The duo, which has not played since November, gave fans a sneak peek of the key roles they will play for the Maryland football team this upcoming fall. They each scored touchdowns in the offensive unit’s 40-35 win over the defense.
Harrison picked up where he left off last season, gaining 79 yards on five carries. The running back was a threat to break loose from the backfield at any moment in his freshman campaign, averaging 7.2 yards per carry in 2016.
In what comes as an absolute to surprise to no one, a large portion of his 79 yards Saturday came on one play. The quick-footed freshman embarrassed his own defense on a 56-yard touchdown where he went untouched the entire way.
The other half of the duo, Turner, was a favorite target of quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager, catching six passes for 126 yards Saturday. He demonstrated his big play capability on a four-yard quick slant pass from Bortenschlager that he took another 49 yards thanks to some quick cuts.
“He’s done that all spring long,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands. I think he’s a tough cover in the slot.”
He also showcased his speed and athleticism on his 29-yard reception, where he exploded down the sideline to break free from the coverage.
The sophomore had limited playing time for the Terps last season, but next year he will be expected to fill a much bigger role as a slot receiver, a position occupied by Teldrick Morgan last year.
“He’s been a big target for me all spring,” Bortenschlager said. “He’s filled [Teldrick Morgan’s] shoes really well. I think he’s going to be a really good player.”
Bortenschlager and Pigrome received extra reps at quarterback due to UNC transfer Caleb Henderson being out with an injury. They both showed some promise but still faltered at times. Pigrome struggled to consistently and accurately find his receivers and twice was intercepted.
“Coach Bell didn’t think it was our best day, we don’t think it was our best day,” Bortenschlager said. “We missed some throws, made some mistakes, but I think the past couple of practices especially, we’ve be doing a really good job throwing and catching.”
Pigrome bounced back from the interceptions and hit his mark on two throws that resulted in touchdowns, one of them a 29-yard throw to Taivon Jacobs in the end zone. Durkin said Pigrome has worked on his ability to throw the deep ball and the coach feels much more confident throwing the ball downfield than he did last year.
“Obviously, there’s a couple of those throws that I know [Pigrome] would love to have back but he had a couple really nice ones down the field, too,” Durkin said.
Pigrome and Bortenschlager will have to compete with Henderson and incoming four-star quarterback Kasim Hill to become the primary man under center in the fall.
“I’m really excited with where we’re at in the quarterback spot. I think Kasim coming in will really add competition to it,” Durkin said. “We’re going to keep competing all summer through preseason camp and make a decision later on that.”
The starting position is still very much in play and will be for some time. Aside from Hill, who hasn’t been able to practice because he’s still in school, each player has been seeing equal time in practice to give the coaches as good of a look as they can get.
“Right now, I don’t know if there’s an actual starter but they’re all playing very great,” Turner said. “You can definitely see the quarterbacks making each other better. With Piggy, Max and Caleb and with Kasim coming in, everybody is really competing like everybody wants a starting job.”
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